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November 2008
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RMJ: Benefit years - why they hurt

November 10th, 2008 by Robin Martin-Jenkins in County cricket and tagged , ,

“Benefititis: deterioration in the standard of a cricketer’s play brought about by distractions from a benefit year and its associated events.”

There have been many classic examples of benefititis. In 2000, Dominic Cork, in the prime of his cricketing life, took 42 first-class wickets at an average of 21.09. In 2001, his benefit year with Derbyshire, he took 12 wickets at 51.50. The following year, perhaps recovered from his case of benefititis, normal service resumed and he took 64 wickets at 18.90. Or take his Lancashire colleague Mal Loye, whose benefit year it was this season. Mal has been one of the most consistent run scorers in county cricket for the past decade. Since 2001 he has averaged, in successive years, 56, 37, 51, 49, 50, 59 and 36. This year he averaged 14. Place your bets now for a successful 2009.

As a professional cricketer you leave school, fall into a contract with a county, play cricket and … well, that’s it really. You just do what you have always done best. And in the winters the more motivated cricketers either go abroad to play yet more cricket or find a job in some cricket-related capacity at home, often to do with coaching. If they’re very lucky or forward thinking, they will get some work experience in the wider world but the vast majority of cricketers just swan along in their career bubble without a clue about the demands and pressures of the workplace outside.

Perhaps it is unfair to say ‘swan along’. County cricket brings with it many stresses and strains, both physical and mental. But once the cricketer has become used to his surroundings and the sometimes-strange working hours, he is in his comfort zone for much of the time. Good coaches are forever trying to challenge their charges, with extra-curricular sessions designed to take the subject out of this zone.

And that’s essentially where a cricketer in his benefit year finds himself: out in the big, bad world without a clue. He finds out in late August that he is to have a benefit the following year, then, after a brief meeting at Lord’s with the ECB to explain the rules and regs, he’s on his own. Suddenly, having only ever been good at playing cricket, he is thrust into the cut-throat world of the local business community. He has to become an expert networker, party planner and public speaker all at once. He has to buy a laptop and a printer. Most alien of all to him, he has to buy a diary and fill it with appointments to meet sponsors, caterers and tie designers. He has to plan his life and it becomes more complicated than at any time since those long-gone school days.

And then he has to remember that he’s a cricketer too. Somewhere along the line he has to take some wickets and score some runs; to do what he is paid to do and what has, until this year, come totally naturally to him.

It is possible to do both of course – play good cricket and enjoy a fruitful benefit. Not everyone gets benefititis. Richard Montgomerie scored 1000 runs for Sussex in his benefit season and I’d like to think I haven’t let anyone down this year. But this is in part due to the tremendous support local businesses give Sussex cricket and the beneficiary, which I know is not so prevalent at other counties.

But I’m not expecting anyone to feel sorry for beneficiaries. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a bit of a pension pot that most people don’t get. I am extremely grateful for it and in many ways have enjoyed the challenges of the year. But I am looking forward to the 2009 season when I’ll just be a normal cricketer again.

2008 is Robin Martin-Jenkins’ benefit year, visit for further details

Posted in County cricket | 4 Comments »

Jrod: I want my cricketers with balls

November 10th, 2008 by JRod in International and tagged , , , ,

There was a time when Australia were pretty good at cricket, you may remember back that far, they had a way of playing that was attacking, aggressive and brought their fans much joy.

Then it all went wrong, blame the credit crunch, global warming, or the advent of pink shirts on straight men but something changed.

Their gun, young quick needed a break from the game.

They suspended their superstar allrounder for missing a meeting he didn’t know was on.

They complained about sledging with a straight face.

Players became teetotallers.

And professionals who prepare like anal-retentive astronauts have replaced the team’s cricketers.

I stood by while all this happened, well not really, I sent an angry email to James Sutherland asking for our team back. No reply has been forthcoming.

Now Australia has gone even further down the path of the dreaded ‘P’ word.


The team has now started playing to protect their captain’s next Test rather than winning this Test, drawing the series and keeping the trophy.

I mean how many overs should Michael Hussey bowl? Is less than none a number?

The Australians are already defending their actions, Tim Neilsen even went as far as to say: “I don’t think for a second we haven’t pressed for the win.”

I didn’t see him say it but unless he was wearing a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, this is unacceptable.

The Australian team are turning into a bunch of mindless corporate zombies and it is not helping their cricket.

I have had enough. I want my cricket team back.

I want them to be larrikins, drinkers, smokers, cheaters, tough bastards and people who will do anything to win. Including giving their captain a Test match ban to win a series.

That is how we have always played cricket in Australia and if I can’t have anything else I want, at least give me the “we will do anything to win” spirit back.

We need to stop this before it gets worse – next thing you know they won’t be claiming half volleys.

Jrod is an Australian cricket blogger, his site won July’s Best of Blogs in TWC

Posted in International | 7 Comments »

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